My daily spe­cial

To honor the horse­man who taught me so much, I make a trip each day to visit his dig­ni­fied old horse.

EQUUS - - Backpage - By Becky Faust-Roberts

Iwas in a hurry on that beau­ti­ful, crisp fall day out at Heart­land Sta­bles. I had dashed out of the tack room with sad­dle, blan­ket and head­stall in hand when I nearly ran head-on into Dave.

“Whoa, girl! Slow down! You’re go­ing to hurt your­self,” he said, laugh­ing.hing. Dave was 82 then, but still the stron­gong and able horse­man he’d al­ways been.een.

“I guess you’re right,” I said, apol­o­giz­ing. “I’ll be 60 soon. I sup­pose it’s time to slow down.”

“Let me tell you about your 60s,” he said. “It will be the best decade of your life. The things you once thought were im­por­tant will mean noth­ing. You’ll mel­low out and find peace of mind. En­joy that time of your life. You’ve earned it.” I can now say,ay, he was right.

I’ve known Dave and Black­jack,k, his gor­geous Quar­ter Horse, for 15 years. Jack stands almost 16.2 hands, broad in the chest and rip­pling with mus­cles. Yet, de­spite his im­pos­ing look, he is calm in na­ture and walks slowly but with pur­pose. Dave has owned Jack for more than 20 years, and for most of that time the big horse has been a fix­ture at Heart­land.

Ev­ery day at around 3:30, Dave would pull up in his old truck bring­ing Jack’s fa­vorite treat: a brown pa­per bag filled with fresh ap­ples and car­rots. Jack would al­ways be stand­ing near his pad­dock fence, wait­ing for his friend. On those rare days when Dave was de­tained, one of the barn staff would bring Jack into his stall un­til Dave could get there. No mat­ter who led him in, Jack al­ways main­tained his steady, dig­ni­fied air.

I re­mem­ber one af­ter­noon I was alone at the barn when it started pour­ing down rain. Dave hadn’t ar­rived yet, and Jack was in his pad­dock nuz­zling the gate latch with his soft nose. I ran to the barn to grab his lead, then brought him inside. Nor­mally, I’d be in­tim­i­dated in the con­fines of a stall with such a large horse, but I felt com­pletely safe with Jack. He stood qui­etly and low­ered his large head, just as he did for Dave, so I could re­move his hal­ter. Then he let me hug his neck, as if to say, “Thank you for tak­ing me out of the rain.”

When Dave ar­rived he thanked me, too, as he headed to­ward Jack’s stall with his brown pa­per bag.

So many times I watched Dave groom Jack and sad­dle him up. Then they would head out to the trails in Jack’s de­lib­er­ate walk. In their later years, Dave and Jack of­ten sim­ply strolled to­gether around the prop­erty. Dave would sit on what­eve­what­ever he could find and just let Jack graze in the soft, green grass.

LLast Satur­day, after more than a yearye away, I went out to Heart­land to shoot some pho­tos. I found ththe owner in the barn and ststopped to chat. I asked about Dave, fear­ing the an­swer. “Dave is very ill,” she said. “He never comes out any­morany­more. But Black­jack is in the pas­ture if you would like to go visit.”

I walked out and called for Jack. He raised his head from the grass and came straight to me with his me­thod­i­cal walk. He let me stroke his mane and hug his neck, and we just stood for a while en­joy­ing the af­ter­noon sun­shine. I felt a sense of grat­i­tude from him. I know the barn owner will give him all of the love she can.

I don’t know if Dave will ever be able to visit his old friend again, but I pray that he can. And to you, Dave and Black­jack, my two wise old friends--thank you for teach­ing me about Peace and Seren­ity. I’m blessed to have known you.

Ev­ery day now, I will be filling a brown pa­per bag with ap­ples and car­rots and driv­ing out into the coun­try un­til there is no longer a need.

OLDOL FRIEND:

The au­thor en­joy­senjo a mo­ment with Black­jack.B

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